Jeanine Basinger’s five-week “Marriage in the Movies” online class at Coursera.org has wrapped up, and I had a great time… but I’m afraid I went overboard posting notes and links in the discussion forums. I’m calling it quits at 99 contributions.
The professor’s lectures were mostly about the ten assigned films and her history of Hollywood movies that are primarily “about marriage” — which she differentiates from films that are about married people doing other things, like solving “Thin Man” mysteries.
The students, however, were free to raise other topics in the discussion forums — and did, from “favorite movies” to “favorite quotes from movies” lists. Some folks were having so much fun that by the end they were discussing “forum” software and sites that would let them continue the conversation after the end of the class.
I had no special expertise on this category of films — or on the general subject of marriage — but I shared what I could about online film-research resources. I managed to avoid saying too much about old-time radio “replays” of movie plots, which I write about elsewhere, or about ukuleles, folk, blues, Irish and Appalachian music, and other topics near and dear to me. (One of the films we watched, The Marrying Kind, does have a heartbreaking scene involving Judy Holliday playing a ukulele, but saying more than that about it would be a plot “spoiler.”)
When the course was over, I went back to see just how much I had written for a course whose students are told to expect a work effort of four to six hours a week. That’s Coursera’s generic time estimate, and I think some students spent much more time than they expected.
For some class members — especially those outside the U.S. — just tracking down the assigned films was a challenge, and a topic for discussion. As a volunteer “community teaching assistant,” I tried to help with that, although assistants based in Europe and Asia might know more about availability of films in their regions.
So how much did I write? Almost as much as I would in a full-semester graduate seminar — minus the exhaustive “lit review” and minus the coherence of building a thesis and drawing conclusions in traditional “term paper” format. My attention deficit disorder had fun here!
Coursera does let you go back and look at all your own contributions to a discussion, so here are mine, exported as a PDF file (since no one else’s comments are included, I assume I’m within my “copyright” rights here: 6814 Marriage and the Movies_ A History _ Coursera
My Macintosh says that PDF file would be 41 pages long if printed! My notes might not always be understandable, removed from the original discussion context, but most stand on their own, and the links to other film resources should still work — at least they do in my copy when opened in a PDF viewer. I’m posting it here so that I can get at those links from other computers, and in case its of interest to a couple of non-Coursera film fans I know.